By Pearl Ngwama
The Commissioner for Accident Investigation Bureau Nigeria (AIB-N), Engr. Akin Olateru, has said that the Agency needs strategic collaboration and alliances with various stakeholders in Construction, Maritime, Air Transport, the fire departments and other organisations to increase its efficiency, especially when air accident occurs in a difficult terrain.
Olateru who said this at a Gateway Forum organised by the League of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC), disclosed that it had been seeking the Nigerian Navy buy-in in this respect for the last three years but all to no avail.
He explained that partnership with the Nigerian Navy and the other agencies of government is necessary for a thorough job wherever aircraft accident occurs.
The AIB-N Boss also said that the Agency had neither divers nor diving apparatus like frogmen suits to go into the deep to retrieve wreckage of aircraft or black boxes because its personnel are not trained for that.
He further said that the AIB-N does not have aircraft and so when an aircraft crashes in a difficult terrain, it would need the Nigeria Air Force (NAF).
His words: “Since 2017, I have been pursuing the Nigeria Navy to sign MoU. It is not the day we have an accident that we start looking for whom to call.
“It is very serious and some agencies of government do not understand why we need all collaboration; they don’t understand why we are pushing for this cooperation.
“For instance, if an aircraft crashes into the sea, AIB doesn’t have the capacity for sea divers to retrieve any wreckage or black box’ but the Nigerian Navy does.”
He disclosed that recently, AIB-N signed a MoU with the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) and that one of the benefits of that is that an aircraft which drops from the sky in a bad or difficult terrain that AIB cannot access, the Air Force can help with the logistics.
“We do not have any aircraft; so when an aircraft crashes in a difficult terrain, we would need the NAF.
“We too can be of help to the Air Force because we have a world class safety Laboratory in Abuja. So rather than the Air Force sending their ‘black box’ overseas, they can use our Laboratory and save Nigeria some cost. At the end of the day, it is to the benefit of the entire Nation,” he said.
Stressing the need for more collaborations and alliances, Olateru however, said that the agency had had cooperation with several agencies including the Federal Road safety Corps (FRSC) and the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA).
“You see the way LASEMA handled the last accident and that is why we are making effort to sign an MoU with LASEMA and see how we can train their staff on how we work and what we expect from them when there is an accident.”
“We have done a lot of training with the Nigeria Police Force and have trained them as first responders on what to do at the crash site; we’ve trained Civil Defence too. We are still waiting the Nigeria Police for the MoU to be signed; we will get there. We just have to keep pushing; it is important for all the agencies to come together and work as a team.
He applauded the Police, Fire Service and other law enforcement agencies for controlling crowd and securing the crash site of the recent helicopter accident.
“And that is why we have conducted several training sessions involving members of security agencies such as the NPF, the Civil Defense Corps, and FRSC on the importance of securing crash sites so as to ensure that evidences are not tampered with,” Olateru said.